20 Foods Harmful to Dogs
Whether you feed your dog raw, kibble, or a mix, you’ve probably wondered what human foods you can and can’t feed your dog. We’re here to help! Here are 20+ foods harmful to dogs and a list of foods that are excellent for dogs.
10 Foods You Should NEVER Feed Your Dog
Many foods that other sites deem harmful for dogs are actually fine, depending on how, how much, and how often you feed them. On the other hand, here are 10 foods you should NEVER feed your dog. Contact your veterinarian if you discover your dog has accidentally eaten any of the following foods.
Unlike humans, dogs do not enjoy a fun buzz from alcohol, and it doesn’t take all that much for a dog to suffer from alcohol poisoning and potentially die as a result. Aside from your favorite boozy beverages, other sources of alcohol your pup might get into include:
•Uncooked bread or pizza dough
•Sloe (blackthorn) berries
•Varnish and paint
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs include:
•Increased body temperature
•Loss of coordination
Caffeine stimulates the heart muscle and central nervous system when pets ingest it, leading to anything from minor symptoms to death depending on the size of the animal and how much caffeine they consume.
While a little lick of your latte now and then may be harmless, a dog who eats tea bags, coffee grounds, or diet pills containing caffeine needs emergency medical treatment.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a natural stimulant that dogs are more sensitive to than other domestic animals since they metabolize it extremely slowly. Like caffeine, theobromine increases a dog’s heart rate, potentially to dangerously high levels.
Darker chocolate contains more theobromine than milk chocolate, making it more dangerous. In particular, you need to watch out for cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, gourmet dark chocolate, and semisweet chocolate.
With its high levels of caffeine, coffee can be very dangerous for dogs. While a small taste of your drink may be OK occasionally, eating coffee grounds could potentially be deadly, so it’s best to keep all coffee products well out of your pup’s reach.
Grapes and Raisins
While it’s possible that the reason many grapes and raisins are so toxic is due to a fluoride-based pesticide called cryolite, scientists still aren’t certain why grapes and raisins sometimes make dogs extremely sick (with some dogs even dying), while other times, dogs can eat large amounts of the fruit with no side effects whatsoever.
Until we know for sure, it’s best to avoid giving your pup grapes and raisins altogether.
Even in small amounts, macadamia nuts can cause extreme gastrointestinal problems within 12 hours of ingestion. Symptoms include:
•Loss of coordination
•Pale mucous membranes
While most nuts are fine for dogs in moderation, you should contact your veterinarian right away if your dog consumes any macadamia nuts.
Nutmeg contains myristicin, a toxin that can cause mild stomach upset in small amounts and symptoms like disorientation, hallucinations, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, abdominal pain, dry mouth, and seizures in large doses, so make sure to keep your spices well out of your dog’s reach.
Onions and many other members of the allium genus, such as leeks and chives, contain toxic compounds called organosulfoxides that can damage red blood cells when chewed, leading to serious illness or even death when consumed by pets.
Although garlic is also a member of the allium family, it is safe for (healthy adult) dogs in moderate doses when fed raw—but avoid giving your pet garlic supplements.
Also called birch sugar, xylitol is a natural sugar alternative that’s extremely toxic to pets. It can be found in a huge number of sugar-free foods as well as some prescription medications, over-the-counter medications or supplements, and health and beauty products.
You can find a fairly comprehensive list of products containing xylitol here.
Any uncooked product containing yeast, such as bread dough or pizza dough, poses two unique problems for dogs that eat it:
•Yeast makes dough rise, and it can continue to rise in your dog’s stomach, potentially rupturing their stomach or bowel.
•Yeast converts the sugar in dough to alcohol, and the warm stomach environment promotes this fermentation process, possibly resulting in alcohol poisoning.
Make sure you always rest your dough well out of the reach of your four-legged friends.
10 Foods You Should Feed Dogs With Caution
Many websites really go overboard with all the foods they think dogs shouldn’t eat. In reality, most foods we didn’t mention in the previous section are safe for dogs in moderation or with specific rules in place to help keep your pup safe.
Apples, Apricots, Avocados, Cherries, and Plums
Apple seeds contain toxic cyanide, and the pits of apricots, avocados, cherries, and plums are all choking hazards, but the flesh of these fruits is safe for dogs (in moderation). Large portions of avocado or eating the skin or other parts of the plant could make your dog sick, however.
Cooked bones can cause all sorts of problems, from cracked teeth to perforated intestines. Raw bones, on the other hand, are an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Choose bones that are an appropriate size for how big or small your dog is.
An extremely healthy snack for dogs in limited amounts, broccoli does contain compounds called isothiocyanates, which can upset a pup’s digestive system in large amounts, so don’t overdo the broccoli. Since dogs aren’t designed to digest roughage, cooked broccoli is a better option than raw.
Coconut flour and meat are totally safe (and even beneficial) for dogs, but you should limit how much coconut oil you give to your dog orally. It’s high in saturated fat and calories and may cause leaky gut.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant, so cheese, yogurt, or ice cream may upset their stomach, especially if given in large amounts. That said, goat’s milk is much easier to digest than cow’s milk, and many dogs do fine with small amounts of dairy, so use your best judgment when sharing dairy products with your pup.
Since garlic is a member of the allium genus, like onions and leaks, many places say to avoid giving it to dogs. However, it would take a HUGE amount of garlic (like 100 cloves) to actually make a dog sick. In reality, feeding half a clove up to 3 cloves of garlic (depending on the size of your dog) actually provides numerous benefits, including:
•Boosts kidney, heart, and liver health
•Flea and mosquito repellent
•Helps regulate blood sugar levels
•Helps strengthen the immune system
•Helps regulate blood pressure
•High in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients
•Kills ear mites
•Reduces asthma and allergies
Note that garlic must be fed raw to healthy dogs over the age of 6 months old. Puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs, or pups with certain health conditions should not be given garlic. Never use powdered, dehydrated, or dry garlic or garlic supplements.
Mushrooms can have a wide variety of benefits for dogs, but you do have to be careful to avoid letting your dog eat toxic species. While mushrooms you buy from the grocery store are typically a healthy treat you can share with your dog, you should avoid letting your dog eat random mushrooms in the wild unless you are 100% certain you can identify the species.
Peanuts and Peanut Butter
The only nut dogs should never eat is the macadamia nut. That said, salted peanuts can cause your dog problems, and peanut butter may contain the toxic ingredient xylitol, so be careful about what and how many (or how much) peanuts and peanut butter you share with your pup.
Potatoes and Tomatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are safe for dogs as long as they are cooked and given in small amounts. On the other hand, raw potatoes contain solanine, which is toxic to dogs. Additionally, potatoes and sweet potatoes are very high in carbohydrates, which dogs don’t need and which can contribute to obesity, so go easy on the potatoes.
Ripe tomatoes are fine to share with dogs (in moderation, of course), but green tomatoes contain a toxic glycoalkaloid called tomatine, which may cause muscle weakness, nausea, difficulty breathing, or an abnormal heart rate in dogs.
Salty, Spicy, or Sugary Foods
While spicy foods can upset a dog’s stomach, salty and sugary foods are as unhealthy for dogs as they are for humans. If your dog happens to steal a couple of salty potato chips when you aren’t looking, they’ll probably be OK, but you shouldn’t include salty, spicy, or sugary foods as part of your dog’s regular diet.
5 Foods Dogs Can Eat Safely
Now that we’ve discussed all the foods your dog shouldn’t eat (or that you should feed with caution), let’s talk about some foods that are excellent for sharing with your dog.
Whether cooked or raw, eggs are an excellent addition to your dog’s diet. Eggs are full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including:
•Vitamins A and E
Note that raw egg white contains an enzyme that ties up biotin, so you should limit how much egg white your dog eats each week. That’s easily solved by either separating the yolk from the white or cooking the egg.
Dogs can eat eggshells, too, as long as they haven’t been commercially washed first (so stick with farm-fresh eggs, when possible).
Apart from any we mentioned above (like grapes and raisins), fruits can make an excellent treat for dogs—in moderation, of course. Fruits are naturally high in sugar, so you should limit how much you feed your dog. Additionally, dogs don’t NEED fruits or vegetables in their diet. Our PhD animal nutritionist recommends limiting fruits and vegetables to no more than 5-8% of your dog’s total diet.
With the exception of any vegetables we listed above (like onions), most vegetables are safe for dogs. However, dogs’ digestive tracts aren’t designed to extract nutrients from vegetables, so it’s best to give your dog a head start in the digestive process by cooking and pureeing veggies before feeding them to your dog.
Dogs are biologically designed to eat and process raw meat without getting sick. If you worry about pathogens in raw meat, rest assured that We Feed Raw uses high-pressure processing (HPP) to neutralize all potentially harmful pathogens, making our food safe for you to handle and extra-safe for your dog to eat.
Find out how much it would cost to start your dog on a raw diet here.
Seafood is generally safe for dogs, although you want to choose fish that are lower in the food chain. Large, carnivorous fish like tuna and salmon tend to have dangerously high levels of mercury and other toxins, so stick with smaller fish like anchovies and sardines.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats a Toxic Food
If you know (or even suspect) your dog has eaten something toxic, you should contact your veterinarian (or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center) immediately and find out what to do. You may be instructed to watch and wait, induce vomiting, or take your dog in for immediate medical care.
Even if you think your dog will probably be OK, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Ready to Go Raw? Switch to We Feed Raw Today!
Are you ready to start your dog on a biologically appropriate raw diet? Start your meal plan now! Even adding some raw to your dog’s diet can have benefits, and it’s totally safe to mix raw food and kibble, so you can find a raw percentage that fits your budget.
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